Title: Cave In

Author: A.J. Hofacre

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Do I really need to explain this? Spike and Buffy during the final scene of "As You Were."

Disclaimer: Not mine, blah blah, All Joss's, blah blah, ME, Fox, and UPN's, too, blah blah. This gets old.

Note: Don't know how, but I managed to decipher most of Spike's words. Most of the quotes belong to Buffy, taken from 6.15.

Feedback: pretty please with yummy chocolate covered Spikes on top.

Spike

I look around and kick gently at what's left of my bed. This is gonna take for-bleedin'-ever to clean up. It took more work than I had patience for to get it just the way I wanted it in the first place. Not even sure if I wanna do it. Hmph. Some people hate their lives; you know the sort. Nits who've got everything goin' for 'em, an' all the while, they're hiding behind a curtain an' boo-hooin' about how their life's unfair, an' they wish they could be a lil' smarter, sexier, taller, faster. My ass. Those gits don't have a clue what they've got. If anythin', unlife is more of a bitch than anything you could imagine. 'Specially if you happen to be a vampire. Or me.

I hear her, sense her, before she even makes it down here, an' I sigh. Bint's prolly come to gloat about Sergeant Dickhead, an' rub it in my face 'bout how she don't need me anymore.

Step on my heart an' grind it a lil' more, why don't you, Slayer? Come to play more games?

I keep my head down as she enters what's left of what were once my somewhat decent "living" arrangements. God, I effed up. I effed up bad. She must hate me, more so'n usual. No wonder she said she'd never trust me. I keep doing stupid crap that effs up my chances every time I get close. It's all the more reason for her to have somethin' better.

But, Christ, I don't wanna lose her.

I take a deep breath.

"So she's back." I hazard a glance at something other than the charred remains of my bed, keeping my gaze away from her for as long as I can. In my peripheral vision, I see that she's wearing a lil' violet colored baby doll shirt, and some jeans. Cor, she's beautiful. "Thought you'd be off snoggin' the soldier boy." Why'd that stupid, poofy, irritatin' excuse for a forest ranger come back anyway? She looks calm, and... apologetic? 'Kay, somethin's wrong. Why ain't she goin' off on me?

"He's gone." I stop for a second, then look up. He is? Bleedin' joy. Stupid wanker just HAD to blow into town, like the greatest bloody thing since Superman, sans the cape an' tights. He just had to ruin things between her an' me.

So whatcha here for, ducks? Oh, wait. Stupid question. There's only one thing you ever really come to me for anymore.

I look back an' forth between her an' the bed.

"So you've come for a bit of cold comfort?" She doesn't answer an' I sigh, lifting my hand an' indicating the big mass of absolute sod that's in place of my bed. My gaze settles blankly on the mattress. "The bed's a bit blown up, but then that was another of..."

Buffy

"I'm not here to... And I'm not here to bust your chops about your stupid scheme, either. That's just you. I should've remembered." Yeah, I really SHOULD have remembered. Spike is pretty much the king of stupid schemes. The 'Doctor'.... Jesus H. Christ, where does he come up with this stuff?

He looks almost offended that I'm not gonna berate him for what he did. I'm not going to. I don't really care. I've learned to accept this from him, even anticipate it sometimes.

"Oh, this is worse, then, is it? This is you, tellin' me –" He doesn't finish, and I take advantage of his silence.

"It's over." He's not even phased. I guess I have said that to him a lot. Serves me right. Pretty stupid of me, isn't it? He's coming closer, and he's got that look in his eyes, the one that says he's looking right through me.

"I've memorized this tune, luv. Think I have the sheet music." He gives me a knowing look. "Doesn't change what you want." Jesus. He reads into me too well. Is it possible for someone to be too perceptive? Stupid damn vampire.

But it's not like I can hide it anymore. He sees in me what I've always felt for him.

"I know that. I do want you." He stares at me hard at first, and suddenly his face softens and his eyes light up with hope. I think he's shocked that I actually admitted that. I can't help it, though. And why should I feel the need to deny to him what we've both always known? "Being with you... makes things... simpler. For a little while." He looks a little bewildered.

"I don't call five hours straight a little while." Argh! Why did he do that? He just had to remind me of another part of him I'm giving up. But... he's not just an amazing lover. He's... oh god... he's Spike. He understands me. He... connects... fits... where everything else fails to. And... it's making me wonder... if this... what I'm doing... Is it really what I want to do?

Spike

You'd think she'd of finally found a way of shutting me up when she said that. "I do want you." Words I've imagined her saying ever since I discovered how I really felt. Stupid soddin' dreams, comin' out of nowhere an'- giving me a bloody reason to be here. For Christ's bloody sake, I'm about ready to jump through my cruddy, crumbly ceiling.

A little while, eh, Slayer? A certain part of my brain is tellin' me different.

"I'm using you." I freeze. Fuck, there it goes. My good mood just got burned worse'n my bloody basement did. I know, baby... I was just really hopin' you wouldn't say it. You really don't wanna be with me, do ya? "I can't love you." Okay, I'm gonna keep my cool here... I'm... not gonna go off. "I'm just being weak, and selfish." I swoop in, trying to make my smile a little less nervous, an' a little more hopeful. Tryin' to keep her here. Tryin' to stay in her world.

"Really not complaining here." I'm a git. I'm a stupid, soppy, soddin' git! I think as I move closer to her. She barely blinks, and she looks like she's about to drop the mother load on me.

"And it's killing me." Wh – what?

What?

Killing her?

Oh, god.

Buffy

Killing me. Yeah. This is killing me, I think as I watch Spike's face contort and his eyes widen in shock.

"I have to be strong about this." Strong? Me? Now? Hah. That's the biggest crock of shit ever.

Because this right here? Right now? THIS is killing me.

I'm letting go of one of the only things that has kept me sane since I came back. He looks terrified, heartbroken... I want to reach out and touch his face, comfort him. This is killing him, too. And for once, I want to be there for him, repay the debt I owe, stand beside him and do for him what he did for me every single goddamned night following my resurrection. I want to touch him, reassure him, tell him that it'll be okay, and make him understand... I care about him. I don't want to hurt him. But I can't be with him. It feels so amazing, and right, but it isn't. It's wrong. It's the epitome of wrong.

He would take the comfort the wrong way, anyway.

"I'm sorry... William." I think that's the final straw. I've rejected him. Man and monster together. And I truly, truly am. I've never been more sorry for anything in my life.

He looks shattered, like his entire universe just caved in and flew out of his reach. Which, with all honesty, it probably did. I see his eyes glisten, and something sparks in the blue orbs. Something is changed. I don't think I've ever seen him like that. Disbelief, hurt, and the incredible need to end his own life. Permanently.

I turn, after holding his gaze for a moment. Making my way up the battered surrogate staircase, I convince myself that I've done the right thing. I HAVE done the right thing.

I have.

There was no future in what we had. There was no acceptance, nothing to be smiled upon. Our relationship, had there actually been one, would've been scorned by my family, with the exception of my sister. There were no beautiful, sunshine-y days in store for us. We wouldn't be much together. We would've always fought, argued, kissed, and had sex. But that would've been it. That was all it would ever have been. He could love me until the sun finally fell from the sky. But it would never, never, NEVER be love on my part.

Never.

Love was too painful. Love wasn't something that I could just...

It's over.

As I walk out the door of the crypt, I'm greeted by the bright glare of morning. And I take a deep breath and walk away.

I'm needed in the light.

Spike

William.

She said my name.

Since she's known me, she's not said my real name but for twice. It's like pure heaven on her lips.

I stare in disbelief as she walks away, and crook my neck up to follow the sounds of her feet along the planks upstairs. I hear the crypt door slam.

I lost her.

Oh, Christ, I lost her.

This... this isn't happening. No, this isn't real, she's just messin' with me head again, like usual. Screwing around, givin' me a good fright. She'll be back.

Ha-ha, Slayer. You can come back now. Gave us quite the fright, luv. Be a good chit, an' let's carry on with the routine now. Please?

Something clinches inside of me, and not just from the fact that I actually used the word 'please.'

I know she won't be back.

My rage overtakes me. I grab a hold of one of the remaining liquor bottles that sort of survived the blast and stare at it. Suddenly my fist clenches and I explode.

"BITCH!" I roar as I chuck it across the room. It hits a blackened wall and shatters completely, nothing remaining but amber colored shards of glass. And I completely let go. Everything I owned down here, everything that's been destroyed is being destroyed once more, beyond the point of a semi-vague recognition. The blankets are ripped apart, hem to hem. The mattress is torn at, clawed at, until it's a mess of cushioning and springs.

Breaking, smashing, clawing... mass destruction. Nothing is left. Nothing is left in me either. I dash up the ladder and reach the upper level of the crypt. Yanking open the door, I stand there, hidden in the shadows, bloody thanks to the trees around the crypt.

"I don't care! I don't fucking CARE, Slayer! Do you think it fucking matters to me? All I wanted was the sex! That was it! That was all I could ever trust YOU for, anyway! I was just using you, like you used me! You think you're high an' mighty, bitch? You're nothing but another notch on the bedpost! That's ALL you are! That's all you'll EVER be! An' I don't know what the fuck you've done to me because I still fucking LOVE you!"

By the time I reach those final four words, I've dropped down to the ground, clinging desperately to the door. My eyes are stinging and – bloody hell. I can't stop myself. I crawl back into the crypt, slam the door, an 'lean against it, burying my face in my hands. A quiet sob escapes my throat.

And what's amazing is that with everything I can handle, with everything the bint's thrown at me, said to me, done to me over the past years, I can still love her so much that she can reduce me to that sorry, pathetic excuse of a so-called "poet" I was. I can still feel broken, an' empty... an' absolutely lost.

I lost her.

She once told me I was beneath her. An' it was then that I realized how much power the bint had over me. She rejected my attempt at a kiss, and shoved me backwards. An' then, saying three words that I thought I'd heard the last of, she reduced me to tears in the middle of an alley, wanting to kill her and kiss her, all at the same time.

I lost her.

She once died to save the world. She stood at the top of a platform and dove into a portal, sacrificing her life for the good of the world, and the Nibblet. She loved Dawn. She loved the Scoobies. And she knew they, an' I loved her, too. An' she acknowledged my love for her. She entrusted me with her sister's care. An' I done as good as gold for the 'Bit. Nothin' nasty would ever come her way, s'long as I was there. I got thrown off a tower in the most disgusting betrayal of a promise that I've ever done, a betrayal that came about because of that fucking lizard man. An' I watched, bruised an' bleeding, with a broken leg for my troubles, as the goddamn sunlight washed over her dead body. My Buffy. My Slayer. Dead.

Dead, dead, dead.

I lost her.

She once came back, pulled back to the living plane for a second time, by so-called friends who only brought her back for their own selfish needs. They knew I would stop them. Especially Red. Miss Hot Shot with the Witchly Powers knew I'd do something, say something 'bout the entire ritual. An' when I finally found the 'Bit an' chided her for running out on me the way she had, the most beautiful, AND heartbreaking sight I'd ever seen came down the steps. I tried to brush it off as the bleedin' bot, until I heard it – the heartbeat. This Buffy had a heartbeat. This Buffy was MY Buffy. The real Buffy. My Slayer was back.

It was all I could do then not to run out and vomit in the yard. Suspicions first went to Dawn, since I first aided her with that little ritual for Joyce. When I realized it wasn't her, the verdict was on the Scoobies – all four were guilty. They ran into the house an' pushed me out, not knowing, not caring what they'd done to the poor chit, not understanding ANYTHING about the order they'd messed with. And when the bricklayer walked out, acting like a bloody king, I had to square my shoulders and wipe at my eyes. I wasn't about to let Lackbrain see me cry for a second time.

I lost her.

I've only cried for and because of her thrice. An' here I am again, sobbing my eyes out like the pathetic love-struck prance I've become.

I lost her. Because being with me was killing her. I was sending her on her way to her third death, an' I lost her again anyway. She doesn't want to be with me, she shouldn't HAVE to be with me. She doesn't belong in the dark. She belongs so far into the light, I'd incinerate within a fraction of a second of reaching for her. She doesn't need the dark. She doesn't need me.

She needs the light. She needs everything that's there in the light with her. My lil' Bit, Harris an' Anya, Wills an' Tara. That's who she belongs with. No one else.

I'm nothing.

But she makes me feel like I am. An' even with everything that just happened, she's still giving me a reason to keep goin'. She's still giving me a little hope in this pathetic life.

She called me William.